Dominic Cummings: Tories, It's Time to Watch Your Tone
I realise I'm hardly the authority on holding politicians to account, and that I'm not exactly the most knowledgeable in these areas, but I've got to admit even I can see there's been a huge problem in the past few days. This post's title is probably slightly misleading, given that the majority of it is going to focus on a man many (lucky) people have probably never heard of before this weekend's revelation, but I promise I don't just limit my attack to one man. The whole Tory government gets a good bashing too.
It's one of my favourite past times.
In case you missed it, Barnard Castle has recently become the UK's authority on eyesight tests! No, really, according to Dominic Cummings that's the only way to know for sure that your eyesight is good enough to be driving a 1 tonne vehicle is to hop into said vehicle, drive to Baranard Castle, and see if you crash! All jokes aside, what actually happened is Cummings, a senior advisor to the Prime Minister, broke lockdown rules and travelled 250 miles to Durham on account of 'lack of childcare'.
Now, you are of course at the liberty to decide for yourself as to whether Mr Cummings was indeed in breach of the rules, but if it wasn't evident before, I certainly believe he did. For numerous reasons I'm about to get in to, I'm incredibly angry. But I must put out a disclaimer that I would probably be less angry about it all if he'd told us what he was doing in the first place, rather than hoping to quietly sweep it under the rug and pray it never got brought up.
Broadly, I'm angry for 3 reasons.
1) He never even bothered to apologise.
In what was quite the most laughable, obvious piece of gaslighting I've ever had the displeasure to witness, Cummings held a press conference and proceeded to imply that it was us, the public, that were at fault, because it was us that did not understand the regulations. The only time the word sorry fell out of his mouth, was when he uttered the statement 'I'm sorry if you felt...' For those of you lucky enough to never be on the receiving end of a statement like this, this is one of the oldest tricks in the books - apologise, without really apologising, and make the party pointing out your misstep feel guilty instead.
It's called gaslighting, and it isn't cool. If he had held his hands up, and said 'I'm sorry. I was trying to do what I thought was best for my child, but I recognise now that my actions weren't appropriate given the circumstances,' I might be able to move on. If he'd been honest with us from the beginning and made every effort to not sneak about (because, let's be real, that's what this amounts to) I wouldn't even be commenting on it. But the fact that he is trying to spin this flagrant disregard for the law as the actions of a loving father is, quite frankly, deplorable. Not least because the 'loophole' he cited was actually put in place to help women escape domestic abuse with their children whilst lockdown was going on.
Prof. Neil Ferguson resigned.
Dr Catherine Calderwood resigned. 
Dominic Cummings should resign as well.
2) The Prime Minister is taking no action.
Make no mistake (as I've seen numerous people do until they do some research): Dominic Cummings holds no mandate from the people. He is entirely unelected, as most advisors tend to be, and therefore we (the public) have no control over the fate of his job.
Normally when we're pretty pissed at someone in government, we at least have the option to take our frustrations out on the ballot within the next five years, but sadly we have no such control over Dom. Therefore, it's even more disgusting that Boris Johnson has decided to take no action in regards to his advisor's activities, and has instead said he is entirely satisfied that Mr Cummings did not nothing wrong.
In response to that, I'd like to point him to the numerous QCs, Barristers, and practitioner's of the law, who have pointed out that at the very least, tolerating Cummings' actions means making it harder to justify prosecuting individuals for breaking lockdown rules. In fact, if you want an entertaining read, I thoroughly recommend visiting The Secret Barrister's Twitter page for a wonderful analysis of the entire thing. (heads up: they're even angrier than me).
At best, Mr Johnson has made it harder to enforce lockdown measures by taking no action on Cummings. At worst, he's disillusioned people to the point that they will no longer even be willing to follow the regulations. That all probably sounds fairly dramatic, but the British Public have mostly been pretty good about following the rules (save for the few oddballs who thought Southend beach was a great place to go). You're now telling them that they've suffered for nothing, and that in fact if they had just creatively exploited loopholes in the law like Mr Cummings has done, then they too could have driven to Durham to visit their ageing parents!
This also makes a mockery of the thousands of parents I've heard about, and the few I personally know, who have had to cope with childcare whilst both being sick with the virus and unable to leave. They didn't have the option to willfully disobey the law and hop on the M1, instead they had to continue parenting very demanding young children whilst also running a household. Dominic Cummings is no more special than them, and has no more right than they do to misinterpret restrictions. In fact, I'd like to point out that he's a senior advisor to the man who runs the country! If he was worried, all he needed to do was hop on the blower to old Boris and explain the situation, and they could have sorted something out!
I won't get into it here, because the evidence on it is flimsy and I don't like to contribute to spreading Fake News, but there's also been suggestions that he has family living in London. If this turns out to be true, it will just add to the ever growing list of reasons to believe that the Tories simply look out for themselves.
3) Matt Hancock LAUGHED about it.
I've been writing this blog post for several days now, and this morning (Thursday 28th May) I logged in to Twitter to see a video of the ever wonderful Kay Burley interviewing Matt Hancock. She challenged him over the abrupt launch of the government's Tack and Trace scheme, that wasn't due to be released until June, and claimed that it was a way to distract the public from the sh*t currently smearing Number 10's windows. (When I first heard this analogy, I wondered if Boris had sunddely become very bored and reverted to the actions of a three year old who's very proud of having used the toilet for the first time. Upon closer inspection, this was not what the Tweet's author meant.)
Hancock decided that the appropriate response to this valid challenege would be to laugh. Yes, if you don't believe me I've embedded a youtube video of the event below so your own jaw can hit the floor as fast as mine did. He then said that he was usually accused of delaying things, so to hear that he was being critiqued for something happening faster than usual was, in his mind, hilarious. It's not hilarious in my mind, and goes to show how patronising the man bloody is. At least answer the question.
If you'd like to understand more about why I think Matt's last name is perfectly suited to him, have a Google (or follow this article) for information about him and Dr Rosena, and you might even stumble across the fantastic video of him telling her to 'watch her tone'. Dr Rosena was pointing out the lack of PPE in the hospital where she works, and he claimed she was blowing things out of proportion. He's clearly an upstanding member of society.
Well, it's pretty clear what I think of the actions of our government over the past few days, and Lord knows there are people that agree with me. A YouGov poll found an astonishing 68% of people of the people it surveyed believed Cummings' actions broke lockdown rules , and a similar survey shown to the right indicates that 52% of a data set of the same size believe he should resign as a result.
However, I'm more than aware of the strength of feelings on both sides of this argument, and there seems to be an inexplicable number of people who feel Cummings' was justified to do what he did (including, it seems, my own MP Rebecca Harris if what she interacts with on Twitter is anything to go by.) To those people, I pose just two simple questions:
Do you truly believe that a 250 mile trip by a man who was supposedly too weak to stand up is a justifiable break of the lockdown rules? And if you do, what do you say to the thousands of people who have been unable to say goodbye to loved ones or attend their funerals because they weren't allowed to leave their house?
I hope today's post has been interesting, and if you feel that you'd like to take more action or get your feelings heard, I would encourage you to write to your MP. I've linked below a copy of my letter in case you need inspiration, and I'd be more than happy to help you make the strength of your feelings known should you need it. Happy ranting!
Most of the time I will link any citations directly into the text. Where I feel this is not appropriate, I have created a list here so that you can still understand my sources and trace back my work.